Albert (Rex) TYRRELL
It is often said that time is the best healer, however sometimes the scars do remain when you lose someone that you did not have much time with as a young lad but the time that you did have were memorable times, and well etched into your memory, like catching your first fish on a fishing line rigged and given to you as a birthday present from your Mum and Dad, and tested in his company, at the end of Crawley jetty. Crawley, the playground that we shared was another school of learning, it taught survival, I learnt how to swim, dive, how to search for a Reckitt Blue Bottle on the sand floor of the river, catch and cook crabs and Cobbler and treat the sting when pricked by their poison needle like prong. This whole learning curve had one teacher ‑ my Father.
Born in 1904 at Enfield Lincolnshire England he migrated to South Australia as a Ten Pound paying passenger in 1923, age 21, he secured a share farming job hoping to make his fortune and ultimately buy his own property, like many others, the looming depression dictated the next move and the hand of fate dealt the next blow. Never to be a loser he moved to Western Australia in search of work and became an employee of Malloch Bros in William St, Perth manufacturing wire products, again the downturn in farming reduced production and with it the workforce. Many other jobs ensued to provide the bread and butter of survival that now included another mouth to feed when he married Gladys in 1927.
Fortunes changed in later years when job security allowed him latitude to commence his own Painting and Decorating Business, this he pursued until he was able to save sufficient money to place a first mortgage on our one and only home in Nedlands.
The shadow of Nazi Germany was spreading rapidly and the call went out for volunteers to come forward for the three services, Dad first applied to the Air force but was told that he was too old for active duty, this made his resolve even stronger, he next applied to the Army using his St John's Ambulance qualifications to join the Medical Corps, this proved the link that he needed to be accepted, as an Instructor.
He rose through the ranks to become Sergeant and manipulated his way into the 2/7 th re-inforcements RAAMC and embarked for the Middle East in 1941, after serving in Syria he returned to Alexandria and volunteered to join the 2/2 nd Pioneers the 2/3 rd Machine Gunners along with the 110 Army General Hospital Col Edward (Weary) Dunlop aboard HMTS Orcades for destination unknown. Unescorted for the entire journey, the Orcades, after a short stay in Ceylon, finally dropped anchor at Tanjong Priok in Java to discharge her human cargo, it was only then that the troops discovered that they were without weapons, personal kit, and supplies to fight the invading Japanese Forces, needless to say that their freedom was short lived and 10 days after landing they became guests of the Japanese.
Six POW camps later he finished in Sandakan. It would be repetition to recall events that happened subsequently as we have all, already researched the destinies of our various kin during their incarceration in this camp of infamy. Like many others among the group his remains have never been located, however I did find out through his British C.0. F/Lt Peter Lee, a Kuching survivor that he was a very close friend of Capt Dr Frank Daniels with whom he worked closely in the Camp and who incidentally was the last Prisoner to be executed at Ranau.
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